These simple bars are a fabulous way to use up bits of dried fruit and nuts. Think of the recipe as a template and get creative as you use up what you have.
Line the pan with parchment or aluminum foil. Cover the sides at least halfway up on 2 sides and over the edge by about 1-inch on the other 2 sides. The longer sides create handles to lift the 8-inch square after it cools.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F/160 degrees C, with a rack in the center of the oven.
Whisk the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt. Add the brown sugar, and mix until the ingredients are well combined. Mix in the dried fruit and nuts, using your hands. Toss everything together until the fruit and nuts are well-coated with the flour and sugar mixture.
Lightly beat the egg and vanilla together in a small bowl, then add them to the floury dried fruit and nut mixture. Using a fork, mix the liquid into the dry ingredients, until the mixture is uniformly moist and no flour/sugar remains untouched.
Spoon the mixture into the pan and press it in evenly, so that the mixture forms a compact layer. Add a topping of chopped chocolate or sweetened coconut and gently press it in.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until the topping is lightly browned. Hopefully the bars will pull away slightly from the sides, but you may not notice that. Cool the uncut bars in the pan. When completely cool, remove the entire 8-inch square, using the overlapping parchment or foil "handles." Place it on a cutting board and cut into small squares. Because the square is dense, (carefully) use a cleaver or large, sharp knife.
If your dried fruit is not moist and fresh, you can freshen it up a bit after cutting it into small pieces. Microwave a small amount of juice or water in a bowl for about 1 minute on high, then soak the dried fruit pieces until they absorb some of the liquid.
It's fine to use a mixture of types of dried fruit or nuts. You can also add candied or crystallized ginger or even homemade candied orange peel.
For the chopped chocolate, I prefer dark, but semi-sweet works too. Bar chocolate is better than chips if you want it to melt because chips contain an ingredient that helps them retain their shape during baking.
If you want to sweeten unsweetened coconut, try this method.
To store the bars, tightly wrap them in foil or place them in a tightly covered container. They should remain fresh for at least several days, up to a week.